Interview with Michael Bohnenstingl, director of Slouch
Tuesday 15 February 2022, by ,
Wannabe musical legend Slouch is pushed by his song-writing-demon Nuffti to deepdive into his darkest emotions, while his girlfriend Lisa is pregnant and wants him to transition into a harmonic family life...
How personal is the story? Are you basing it on experience or someone you know?
Back in Ludwigsburg I spent a lot of time making music and hanging out at our rehearsal room complex with other musicians. At some point I noticed an interesting paradox: many of the musicians (especially the good ones) felt that their inspiration came from desperation, hurt and unresolved feelings. When they transitioned into another, more emotionally healthy part of their lives, they became afraid that they could lose their creative drive. But is that even true? Do you really need your fair share of personal trouble to be creative? This question interested me, so I tried to tackle it in Slouch.
Where did the name Slouch come from?
To “slouch” means to sit with your head bent and your arms lazily dangling from your shoulders. This verb perfectly describes the inner and outer condition of my protagonist. So I chose Slouch to be his name.
Tell us more about the choice of music and the soundtrack.
A goal that emerged during writing was to feature a handful of songs that would outline Slouch’s creative development: from superficial, self-pitying punk-songs to a heartfelt, honest lullaby. To achieve this, I collected dozens of musical phrases I improvised on my guitar until I found key elements for each track. A special challenge was to structure these songs in a way that the viewer got the impression they just heard an entire pop-song, when in fact they just listened to a very short one and half minute track. Finally I collaborated with my friends and fellow musicians to arrange and record the final versions, which was probably the most enjoyable part of production.
How would you describe your animation style? What would you like to explore as an animator?
I would never claim to be an actual animator, because I’m not very good at it. Instead I try to think of my animation as a means to tell a story. My choppy, pose-to-pose animation style reflects that: I only draw the bare minimum of frames to convey emotion, story and movement and focus on the character’s emotions.
Is there a particular short film that has made a strong impression on you?
The dirty truth is that I get most of my inspiration from life-action feature films, which might also be a reason why my film is unusually long for an animated short. However, I always loved the boldness of Don Hertzfeldt’s shorts and have been particularly fascinated with Thomas Renoldner’s latest experimental short film: Don’t Know What. His genuine love for avant-garde combined with a palpable joy in experimenting makes this a delightful experience.
What’s your definition of a good film?
It might sound corny, but the best way I can put it is that I am looking for the truthfulness of a filmmaker. Only after I feel an honest core to an idea, do I get interested in questions of form, virtuosity or beauty. If these elements work hand in hand, that makes a pretty good film for me. A great side-effect of “honesty” is that films tend to become funny: I think there is no way you can look at life honestly without acknowledging it’s beautiful absurdity.